Sunday, February 11, 2007


Posted on nyceducationnews listserve.

Also check out: Jim Horn's

Bloomberg's Corrupt Headmaster of School Privatization

1 comment:

  1. I'm using this space to post another incisive email on Cerf from Leonie Haimson. The question she raises about the way the press dropped the ball on Cerf is so relevant. Of cousre, I would add to this the silence of the UFT which has the resources to expose all this stuff but want to go along/get along with the DOE

    Good points regarding conflict of interest, Marge. (See below email from Marge Kolb of CEC D 24)

    Why shouldn’t Cerf have to wait three years after divesting himself of Edison stock to serve as Deputy Chancellor? Even as a paid consultant to DOE, when he was first hired in Jan. 2006 to advise Klein on how to restructure the school system, why shouldn’t he then have been forced to divest himself of his Edison stock?

    It is also not clear when Cerf was asked to apply for a waiver to the City Conflict of interest board, or submit to any internal DOE ethics process.

    All CEC members have to file extensive information about their financial status and investments – which are supposed to be accessible to the public, even though these are unpaid positions.

    Moreover, when board members of the United Parents Association were elected to CEC positions, Michael Best, DOE’s chief counsel, tried to block them from filling these posts, arguing that they had a conflict of interest since they sat on the board of another parent organization. UPA had to appeal to Eva Moskowitz and the NYCLU for help – and finally, DOE relented and allowed these parents to submit letters, requesting waivers from the City Conflict of Interest board.

    Even so, UPA board members were forced by David Schacher, to DOE ethics officer, to write letters promising never to involve themselves in any matters that related to UPA while serving as CEC members – even though again, both were volunteer positions, and neither organization had any say as to business interests or contracts awarded by DOE.

    DOE also tried to block Paul Mondesire from serving on his CEC in D3 because he was working for the development office at Channel 13 – which apparently had a small contract w/ DOE to train city teachers in the use of instructional technology. Only after an article appeared in the NY Times about this matter did DOE relent and say that they would allow Mondesire to apply for a waiver.

    According to the NY Times, another parent who sought to sit on her CEC was a clerk for Verizon and was told by DOE she couldn’t serve because Verizon has a contract w/ DOE for phone service..

    Why was Chris Cerf allowed to be a paid consultant while holding Edison stock? Why didn’t DOE demand that he divest himself of his stock then, and especially when he became a full-time employee at Tweed? Why shouldn’t he have to wait three years, just like parents who serve on their CECs? And where are his financial disclosure forms?

    It really seems that there is a real double standard here – onerous conditions for parents who volunteer to serve on their CECs at no financial benefit to themselves, and with no influence over contracts, vs. highly paid consultants and top executives of DOE who clearly do have influence over policies that could lead to huge profits for the companies in which they continued to hold stock.

    I would hope that one of our independent elected officials – say the Public Advocate or Comptroller’s office– might look into this matter more closely, and demand answers from Klein, Best and Cerf as to what the legal process and rationale was used in this instance in their decision to allow Cerf to continue holding Edison stock.

    I still feel that one of the most astonishing issues relating to the Cerf scandal is that it took a lone parent, Tim Johnson, w/ no staff, budget or expertise, to uncover the clear conflict of interests involved, instead of any of the numerous reporters or public officials whose job it is to provide oversight and prevent the potential looting of taxpayer dollars.

    Leonie Haimson

    Class Size Matters

    124 Waverly Pl.

    New York, NY 10011


    Thought all of you might find this of interest vis a vis the
    situation with Chris Cerf:

    I am a CEC member from D24 in Queens. Recently I drafted a letter to
    parents of 1st-6th grade students in my son's gifted program asking
    if they'd consider a donation to continue the immersion Spanish
    language program that our kids have been getting (which has been
    funded by a local politician's grant up until now). The school
    principal told me to contact the DOE conflict of interest office,
    which referred the matter to the conflict of interest "board," which
    ruled that I could NOT sign the letter (although my husband could). I
    guess there's some thought that as a CEC member, my name on the
    letter would be considered undue pressure (?) even though many
    parents don't even know who is on the CEC! Just out of interest, I
    also asked the conflict of interest office whether I could work for
    the DOE if I resigned from the CEC - the reply was yes, but not in my
    district (for 3 years!).

    So, it seems as if there is MUCH more concern about a CEC member
    (current or former) wielding updue influence than whether Chris Cerf
    will! (Wonder why he doesn't have to wait three years from divesting
    his Edison School stock until he can work for the DOE?)

    Marge Kolb


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